Vic told me that she'd always wanted to try hang gliding, but had never got the opportunity. Easy, I thought, and hit the Google and found Sacramento Hang Gliding. What followed was 2 months of me booking trial lessons and blocking out Vic's time, only to be cruelly thwarted by the weather.

Eventually, though, we made it, and drove out into the middle of bloody nowhere and got totally lost. A call to George got us back on track, and we eventually met up with him as he arrived at the training hill. Which is, I kid you not, behind a firing range. So far, nobody's been shot, or at least nobody's admitting anybody's been shot.

I'd expected an hour or two, but the lesson was all afternoon, until it got dark. We often end up standing in a field in the dark chatting about all manner of nonsense. Anyway, Vic got to run down hill carrying a Condor hang glider a lot. She seemed to enjoy it, as we've been going back more or less every weekend ever since.

Slowly, we moved further up the hill, allowing flights of several seconds while she mastered roll and pitch control (there's no rudder, so there's no yaw control). We spent some time at the top of the hill, with George "kiting" her - he hangs on to the harness while she flies arm's length off the ground.

Eventually, Vic was ready, and the weather was calm enough to jump off, sorry, fly off the top of the 85' training hill. Luckily, it was while Mum and Dad were here, so they got to see her first flight :o) The flight itself was uneventful, so she went back and flew another couple of times that day. Each flight was around 20 seconds, and went several hundred feet.

Soon, she was ready to fly George's new Falcon 3, which, while it's still too big for her, is closer to the right size. This flies a lot further, and a bit faster, and, I'm told, is more responsive to inputs.

At this point she took and passed the US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Hang 1 test, allowing her to fly at the tow site.

We went to the tow site, which is a lot easier to get to. The tow allows gliders to get over 1000', but to start off with, she was only getting to around 50' up. Right now, it's just a straight ahead tow.

At the tow site, she's been working on steering and releases, but we've been slowed down by mechanical failures (the winch blew a hydraulic line), weather and puppy fatigue.

Finally Victoria's Falcon has arrived. It still needed to be test flown, but we put it up so we know it's all there and all works properly.

Fred test flew the Falcon, and everything's OK. We were lucky enough to be relegated to the training hill by the wind, so Vic got to fly it 4 times from both sides of the field. It's a much nicer thing to fly, as she's heavy enough to steer it, and the flights were much more controlled.

After a plethora (look it up) of problems, she's started flying with a new instructor, sometimes at Ed Levin park. While it's a lot further away, there's a much better chance of actually flying. There are a lot of glider and paraglider pilots there, too, so she should be able to get sucked into various flying groups easily.

Rich, her new instuctor, has a new training aid - it's basically a 16'x16' trailer that the glider is tethered to, and then he can stand and direct while you fly along behind the pickup towing it. In 2 weekend days, she's logged almost 30 minutes of actual flight, with many landings and even prone flights in her full harness.

Having proved that she could fly prone on the trailer, she went back to the Ed Levin park, getting to the 150' and 300' launch sites. Now it's a matter of getting the spot landings dialled in for the hang 2 test.

She's flown from the 600' launch, and done the spot landings for the hang 2 test - now it's just the written test, 8 more flights from the 600', then it's on to the 1750' :o)

She's flown several times from the 1750' launch, and passed the hang 2 test. One of the guys, Ganz, put together a video of them all one Sunday that I couldn't go. Stupid work. Next stop, McClure.

At the end of November, we spent a long day at Ed Levin, where she got to fly from the 1750' hill 4 times, and I got to drive the truck down the hill :o)

We'd been playing with the solid state camera, and I sat down and hacked up this.

It looks better as a 230Mb file that YouTube hasn't compressed, but for a first effort, I think it's pretty decent. I've now put a version here that has a lot less compression.

She went to McClure, without me and Tilly, and soared for almost 30 minutes. Then borked the landing and broke a downtube. She wasn't hurt, but maybe a little stiff the following day.

I hacked up this video and this clip.

We got the new base and downtube, and met Rich at McClure to fit them. She then did 2 good flights from the 1100' peak.

We took a long weekend and went to Hat Creek, where she managed to get in about 3.5 hours of flying - useful, as you need 10 hours for the H3 certification. This is the first time I've been able to take pictures of her above launch :o)